Protecting the Environment

Here in Frederick County there is a lot of beauty in the area and we always want to make sure it is preserved properly. But did you know your pool chemicals can affect your surroundings?

A lot of people with pools or hot tubs know there is a lot more work involved than just filling with water and letting it go. Pools and hot tubs take quite a bit of chemistry to keep them looking nice and clean. From chlorine to salt, or acids to algaecides, there are a lot of products required to properly maintain a pool.

Many of these products, if not handled properly or if allowed to enter drainage ways, can flow downstream and find their way into our natural waterbodies. So consider the environment when performing pool maintenance.

First of all, let’s discuss how pool maintenance products could impact natural resources. The most common and important product used is chlorine. Chlorine helps sanitize a pool so that harmful bacteria and other microorganisms are not picked up by the swimmers. These contaminants can come from rain, bird droppings, wind-blown debris and other swimmers.

It is recommended that for a properly sanitized pool, the chlorine concentration should be from 1 to 3 parts per million (ppm), which can be toxic to many aquatic organisms in our waterbodies.

Muriatic acid, also known as hydrochloric acid, is another common chemical used during pool maintenance to get the pool to the right pH, or acidity, so that chlorine can effectively sanitize the pool. Keeping your pool at the proper pH also reduces that red, burning eye sensation while swimming.

A bottle of muriatic acid has a pH of around 1. Most natural waterbodies in our area usually have a pH between 6 and 7. Most aquatic organisms are negatively affected when the pH drops below 5. Algaecides may also be used to keep the pool free of unsightly, green algae. While algaecides are designed to eliminate algae, they can also be toxic to other aquatic life due to many of them containing copper compounds.

Now that we understand that many of our pool maintenance chemicals can be lethal to aquatic organisms, what can a pool owner do to minimize any negative effects to the environment? These recommendations apply to both pools and hot tubs.

Read chemical labels. Follow all label instructions related to proper dosage, personal protective gear required and proper storage to avoid spills or accidental contact with the concentrated products. The label will also have information on how to clean up any spills. It is important to remember that these are serious chemicals that are not only potentially harmful to wildlife, but also to humans. Closely following the label instructions will also reduce the chance for any harmful impacts to the environment.

Direct the pool’s overflow away from any wetland, lake or floodplain. These areas support aquatic plants and animals that could be harmed by the chemicals in pool water. Instead, have the overflow drain to a flat, grassy area where it can absorb into the soil on your property. You may need to relocate where the overflow drains so that it does not damage your lawn or other landscaping. Pool discharges to a roadside ditch or other drainageway are only permitted after the water is dechlorinated. To dechlorinate a pool, simply allow it to sit for one to two weeks or use a dechlorination product.

Decrease the amount of water used and energy consumed by installing a solar pool cover. Solar pool covers reduce evaporation, which can save water and reduce the need for additional chlorine and other chemicals. Solar pool covers also warm your pool naturally, extending your swimming season and/or reducing pool heating costs.

If you need more info please call us and see how we can help!

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